Already with a highly regarded recruiting class boosting expectations next season, Arizona improved its long-term future Tuesday when former Kentucky guard Jemarl (‘juh-MALL’) Baker Jr. announced he would transfer to UA.
A 6-foot-4-inch combo guard from Menifee, California, who played a reserve role for Kentucky last season, Baker chose Arizona after visiting Tucson last weekend.
He had taken earlier visits to San Diego State and Fresno State while also considering Marquette.
Baker will have to sit out the required redshirt year as a transfer next season, but he’ll be eligible to play for Arizona in 2020-21 — just as incoming five-star freshman guards Nico Mannion and Josh Green are expected to leave for the NBA draft, while seniors Dylan Smith and Max Hazzard will run out of eligibility.
Baker’s father said potential playing time that season “definitely played a part” in his son’s decision.
“He just wanted to understand his role on the team, the style of play,” Jemarl Baker Sr. said.
Baker Jr. initially signed with Cal as a four-star recruit in 2017, but Cal released him from his letter of intent after Bears coach Cuonzo Martin left for Missouri. Arizona recruited Baker at that point but he chose Kentucky, then sat out his freshman season with a knee injury.